If the legendary founder of Hanoi King Ly Thai To didn’t know how to crossover his opponent, step back and drill a three-pointer before this weekend, he does now.

Tran Ngoc Son lines up a free throw effort in the tournament on Saturday. VNS Photos Dang Nguyen

That’s because the Hanoi Basketball Federation (HBF) held its first 3×3 basketball tournament in front of the watchful eye of the king at Ly Thai To Flower Garden by Hoan Kiem Lake on Saturday.

Some of Hanoi’s top amateur ballers went toe to toe with Vietnam Basketball Association (VBA) professionals at the one-day tournament, with the VBA’s Thang Long Warriors coming out on top of the men’s event.

Starting at 1pm, hundreds of young basketball fans braved the scorching July heat to get an up-close and personal look at some of their heroes in action, and they didn’t disappoint, with high octane action played to the tune of pumping hip hop music the order of the day.

Le Ba Nam Linh, vice general secretary of the HBF, told Việt Nam News that this weekend’s tournament was just the first step for the organization.

“Our mission is to continue to develop basketball and create more tournaments for the city’s basketball lovers and provide more facilities to make this sport more interesting for young people,” he said.

“We have only been established since last May, so the process of preparing and creating for the tournament like this has faced a lot of difficulties and challenges.

“But if you look in the crowd and the number of people going here at 2pm in the hot weather like this we consider it a successful tournament and I think from now to the end of the event there will be more people to come,” he added.

Fans watch on metres from some of their basketball heroes.

Tran Ngoc Son, an amateur player who competed for Basket Sags told Việt Nam News that going up against some of the country’s top players was a dream come true.

“It was a great experience. Since I started playing basketball, I have always been dreaming to have a chance to be in a match against pro players just like this,” he said.

The pros were impressed with the set-up as and well and clearly revelled in the historic setting for the tournament.

“Today is a special day because this is the first time Hanoi can host a basketball tournament on a walking street by Hoan Kiem Lake, it’s also great news for not only basketball lovers but also sport lovers,” said Thang Long Warriors point guard Nguyen Phu Hoang.

As well as the 12 men’s teams, four women’s teams competed throughout the day in front of the packed crowd. 

The statue of King Ly Thai To in the background of the court.

“Normally, an event like this can attracts basketball lovers. But this event has interested not only basketball lovers but also many other people,” said Bui Thu Thao of the eventual women’s champions Fudo.

“Last night I couldn’t sleep. I felt very nervous but we also prepared very well for this event,” she added.

Fudo and the Warriors may have come away with championships, but it was clear the fans were the real winners, especially with the return of the VBA so uncertain.

“This is a great event for young people, especially for basketball lovers like us,” said young fan Nguyen Viet Quang.  VNS

Peter Cowan and Dang Nguyen

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